Two Controls Are Better Than One
Some people would be content to have one high-performing, cost-effective control that they can count on to continually bring in new customers. But not the folks at People magazine. Why settle for just one control, they might ask, when you could have two?
And settle they haven't. In addition to the greeting-card control the magazine has been mailing since 2002 (see Mail Watch, October 2004, and "Putting People Back in Creative," July 2003), People has tested into a second control: the affectionately named "spa package." This mailing began testing in 2003, rolled out in the beginning of 2004, and first appeared in the Who's Mailing What! Archive in July (202PEOPLE0704B).
The package gets its moniker from the format, which was inspired by a spa gift certificate given to one of People's in-house designers. The relaxing, spa-like tone begins on the pale lavender #10 outer envelope, which features soft duotone flowers and the teaser, "Gift Certificate enclosed with our compliments." Inside, the one-page, two-color letter continues the floral theme and invites readers to:
Enjoy a 4 FREE Issue Mini-Subscription to PEOPLE, and Feel Your Stress Melt Away ...
The perfect therapy for your mind, body, and soul.
But the real spa component of this package is the gift certificate itself: a lavender, personalized 3-3/4" x 9" gift card nestled inside a deep purple, four-color jacket. The entire certificate is printed on a high-quality, 80 lb dull cover stock. According to Richard Downing, production manager for Time Inc., publisher of People, the stock is "one of the nicest sheets that can still accept variable imaging. It gives it that upscale, sophisticated feel."
That gift certificate feel is also the result of careful production, relates Downing. A traditional lettershop package, the jacket/insert format required "slit and nest" production, where the certificate and jacket were printed as one and then folded, nested and slit by the lettershop. The back of the jacket features a match mail bar code, which allows the gift certificate to be personalized.
Because of the high-quality paper stock and the larger size, the spa package is slightly more expensive than the greeting card control. However, according to Jennifer Ogden-Reese, consumer marketing director for Time Inc., the success of the mailing offsets the additional costs. "It was a huge win for us in basically about half of our mail volume," says Ogden-Reese. "This package resulted in a 154 net index against our control (the greeting card package) in both testing and re-testing in 2003. Based on this great success, we have rolled it out to a significant portion of our mail volume (7.2 million pieces annually)."
And the folks at People aren't the only ones who are pleased with the mailing's performance. In October 2004, the package was honored with an ECHO Award by the Direct Marketing Association at its annual conference in New Orleans. "We are thrilled to have this successful new direct mail piece recognized," states Ogden-Reese. "The package leverages great direct mail techniques while reinforcing the brand benefits. It is a wonderful example of what we strive for in our direct marketing."
Tracy A. Gill